With unemployment in France on the rise and its economy moving towards recession you'd think the government would be trying to make it easier for businesses to hire staff. But new employment regulations and red tape have business owners far from happy, and as Katie Gregory reports they're taking to the streets to get their voices heard.
It's not often you see your boss protesting but these French business owners are feeling locked in... Locked in to what they're calling rigid labour laws. Carrying thousands of padlocks to the Finance Ministry in Paris, they're angry at a raft of changes which they believe will restrict their freedom and limit profitability. Their main gripe, a new government ban which means they can't hire a part-time employee for less than 24 hours a week. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PRESIDENT OF THE SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESS FEDERATION,JEAN-FRANCOIS ROUBAUD, SAYING: "We want a bit of freedom, to be able to put someone on a 12 hour per week contract if we need to. That person might be happy and satisfied doing that, perhaps that person will have two different 12-hour contracts." Another sore point, new compulsory payments covering severe working conditions such as night shifts, priced at around 600 euros per worker every year. SOUNDBITE) (French) REGIONAL PRESIDENT OF SMALL- AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESS FEDERATION, MICHEL BERGERET, SAYING: "We've had enough, they need to let us get on with our work, we can't breathe. They say 'We are going to simplify things' but everything is getting complicated." Unemployment in France is above 10% and the number of people without a job rose in October. All this comes as a European Union deadline looms for President Francois Hollande, to prepare budget reforms and prove the economic stability and growth of the euro zone's second largest economy. The last thing France needs right now is more people out of work.